Irish Workhouse Admission Registers

I am struggling with citations for my many Irish workhouse admission and discharge records. The registry books were originally created by the Dublin Poor Law Union (North or South), are held at the National Archives of Ireland, and Findmypast has digitized, indexed, and published images of the registry books. Each record on Findmypast contains both an image and a transcription of the original material. The image contains basic information for the individual, along with admission and discharge date. Each lined entry on the page has a stamped number in the left-hand column, which becomes the inmate's workhouse number. The transcription includes the workhouse, sometimes a folio or page number (rarely), and the book/volume number for the record held at the National Archives. I am wrestling with being consistent while citing what I see in the image. I feel like I should not cite information from the transcription and image together?

Does this cover the essential elements (clearly I am not very confident):

"Dublin Workhouses Admission and Discharge Registers 1840-1919," admission record for Mary Woods (1840), South Dublin Union, workhouse no. 2610; digital image, Findmypast (htpp:// : accessed 20 February 2020); citing Poor Law Records of South Dublin Poor Law Union, 1840-1918, The National Archives of Ireland.

This particular record does not have a discharge date, however, most do. The discharge date is not indexed (or in the transcription) so one needs to locate the admission record and view the image. To cite this, would it be appropriate to add a comment layer stating the discharge date was recorded on the admission entry?

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

Submitted byEEon Mon, 09/14/2020 - 09:35

TeamOC, it's not possible to say how a record should be cited without access to what you are viewing, and I do not carry a FindMyPast subscription. (So many wonderful sites online today; so many budget decisions to make!)

Would you provide the following?

  • a sample document—the original image.
  • the FindMyPast "transcription" for that document. (Is it an actual transcription, an extract, an abstract, a database entry, etc?)
  • a snippet of FindMyPast's suggested citation for that document. (Is this really from a published source as the above "citing" data suggests with its use of italics? If it's a manuscript record from NAI, as it seems to be, does FindMyPast not identify any record group number, series, or item/piece number?

Hopefully, the original record is (somewhat) readable. Mary Woods is the 10th entry from the top. I believe the transcription is an abstract, as it only contains the admission year, not the date and month. Nor does it include any part of the discharge date. After a few email exchanges with Findmypast, I do not think my use of italics is correct.

I don't find a suggested citation from Findmypast; here is what they say about the records:

Each record contains both an image and a transcript of the original material. The amount of information can vary but you can find out the following about your ancestor:

  • Name
  • Status (whether married, single, widowed or a child)
  • Occupation
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Birth year
  • Admission year
  • Workhouse
  • Workhouse number

On image only

  • Name or location of spouse
  • Number of children
  • Observations of condition when admitted
  • Date left workhouse or died
Upload a document

Totally agree - I'm going to appeal to Fiona Fitzsimmons for help with this effort! I typically search Findmypast records (indexed) but cite from another source once identified. However, that's not always possible, as in this case.

Submitted byAnnon Mon, 09/14/2020 - 17:52

I don't have a current FMP subscription, either. What FMP calls a transcription is an extract.

I agree that FMP offers poor detail for crafting a proper citation. Many of the Irish record sets are available, free, on the National Archives site. AFAIK, the Workhouse records are not among that group.

Submitted byAnnon Mon, 09/14/2020 - 18:00

FMP does not have a suggested citation for any record and mostly does not identify any record group number, series, or item/piece number.
For example - from one of their free record sets - the Irish baptism of my 2nd great grandfather -

Submitted byEEon Fri, 09/18/2020 - 10:37


Thanks for the images. They help.   I also have to add a caveat: the context of these images is also important; therefore, without an FMP subscription, I'm flying half-blind here.

As Ann noted, what FindMyPast supplies is not a transcription, despite the FMP header that declares it to be such. It is their database printout providing an extract of part of the record. Columns 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, an 14, with very critical data, are not extracted into the database.

EE's glossary provides definitions of abstract, extract, and transcription at pp. 819, 823, and 832. Here at EE's website you'll also find these helpful discussions:

  • "Abstracts vs. Abstracts with a Bit of an Extract,"
  • QuickLesson 10: Original Records, Image Copies, and Derivatives,"

Returning now to your original posting, your draft citation is this:

"Dublin Workhouses Admission and Discharge Registers 1840-1919," admission record for Mary Woods (1840), South Dublin Union, workhouse no. 2610; digital image, Findmypast (htpp:// : accessed 20 February 2020); citing Poor Law Records of South Dublin Poor Law Union, 1840-1918, The National Archives of Ireland.

The image and database entry suggest several modifications. For clarity, the two layers appear in different colors below:

"Dublin Workhouses Admission and Discharge Registers 1840-1919," database with images, Findmypast (htpp:// : accessed 20 February 2020), image and incomplete extract, South Dublin Union, workhouse no. 2610, Mary Woods (admitted 1840); citing “Workhouse admission and discharge records, v[ol]. G book 1A (24 April 1840) … v. G book 3 (11 Mar. 1847, no. 1510, pages 131 & 132, Poor Law Records of South Dublin Poor Law Union, 1840-1918,” The National Archives of Ireland.

Our alterations and reasoning are as follows:

Basic structure: Your draft creates a three-layer citation with this structure (1) original document; (2) website; (3) source of the source. However:

  1. the image alone does not provide enough data to identify the document. Perhaps more of the identity might be discovered by thumbing back to the start of the volume where a title might appear (if one has FMP membership). But from the document image itself, all we can say is that this is pages 131 and 132 of something, somewhere.
  2. The title you’ve given the document (the first field of your citation) is the title of FMP’s database. It’s an artificial creation by FMP. It’s not part of the identity of the record.
  3. When full identification of the imaged document is not possible from the images provided, we do not lead with a citation of the document because we cannot personally identify. We must rely upon the provider to tell us what they have used and—as we too often discover—the provider's identity can differ radically from the identity of the original.
  4. In such cases, our citation focuses upon the database and the website provider. The structure is this:

“Database,” type of database, Title of Database (URL : date accessed), specific data; citing ……

URL citation:  On the transcription, FMP makes a point of stating  (twice) the exact URL of the page. It’s also reasonably short. Citing this would simplify access for future users of your citation (assuming they have an FMP membership). The image copy that you supplied does not identify the URL. You may wish to add it.

Source of the source: FMP’s database entry (“transcription”) for this document does give us fuller source-of-the-source data. It doesn't include a full archival citation, but it does provide

  • Collection Name
  • Piece
  • Page

These pieces of data should be included in the last layer that begins with “citing ….”

Identification of manuscript title:  Your draft citation presents the title of the manuscript collection in italics (i.e., "citing Poor Law Records of South Dublin Poor Law Union, 1840-1918, ..."), suggesting that the manuscript is actually a publication. 

As explained in EE's Fundamentals of Citation chapter (specifically 2.22 "Citing Titles: Basic Rules") italics are used for titles of standalone works—books, CDs, DVDs, journals, maps, websites, etc.  Titles of manuscripts, names of collections and series within an archive, etc., are not italicized because they are not standalone publications.